Remarks by Ambassador Laura F. Dogu
Managua, July 29, 2016
The word entrepreneur comes from French and its original meaning was akin to “adventurer.” Entrepreneurs truly are adventurers, explorers building products and services never before seen, creating new companies in uncertain environments, and pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible. There is often little guarantee of reward, but the possibility of a breakthrough, the excitement of what could be possible drives them forward.
I want to highlight two such entrepreneurs here tonight who represented Nicaragua at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Silicon Valley last month. Elizabeth Vivas is the owner of Siembras y Cosechas and in three short years has opened nearly 40 stores selling delicious and healthy smoothies. I’m sure many here have enjoyed her drinks; I also hope you get the chance to meet her and feel her excitement and passion for entrepreneurship too.
Aurora Zeas is one of the owners for Zeas Apícola, a company producing honey; but Aurora has also taken this traditional market and gone beyond, creating new jellies, candles and other honey-related products too. She has also obtained necessary quality certifications to be able to sell her product abroad. Her careful planning and focus on quality have positioned her and her company well. These two entrepreneurs represent but a part of the innovation and drive that is here in Nicaragua.
Sometimes being an adventurer or an entrepreneur can feel like lonely work. It can be hard to communicate your vision to potential investors, partners, or banks. It is not always easy to navigate regulations and rules. But adventurers should know they need not travel alone on unfamiliar paths. I am honored to speak to you all tonight at this unique event to highlight and strengthen the entrepreneur community here in Nicaragua. So many successful organizations and companies are represented here tonight, bringing with them so much energy dedicated to new ideas and tools that can make a more prosperous Nicaragua. I applaud the organizers of this event for coming together to provide a forum for entrepreneurs and organizations to forge new relationships and strengthen the innovative community in Nicaragua.
Many of the organizations here tonight exist solely to help guide and sustain entrepreneurs on their journey. Tonight we have representatives from academia, business incubators, finance institutions, consultants, private sector, and other organizations. The common denominator is a desire to support a network which will strengthen entrepreneurship in Nicaragua. Now is the time to work together collaboratively to support our entrepreneurs. My hope is that everyone here tonight establishes new relationships and encounters new businesses and partners for their initiatives and ideas.
The Embassy is proud of our support to entrepreneurs and small businesses, recognizing that you all fuel Nicaragua’s economy. Through various projects over the last several years, USAID has strengthened business service providers’ ability to provide business services to entrepreneurs and SMEs. USAID is providing funding for new and emerging business in Nicaragua through a loan guarantee with Banpro. These Banpro loans, guaranteed by USAID, target Nicaragua’s small and medium-sized businesses throughout Nicaragua, with an emphasis to lending to businesses in the Caribbean Coast. In addition, USAID has partnered with Agora Partnerships, Enclude, Argidius Foundation, Santa Clara University and BAC to provide loans to women entrepreneurs. Lastly, USAID provides entrepreneurship training to at-risk youth from Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast in order to create the next generational of businessmen and women.
I am pleased that there are multiple ways people can connect tonight. Of course, by talking face to face is one way. We also have the paper guide with information about all of the entrepreneurship organizations here. And I am pleased to report that this same information about the entrepreneurship organizations has also been made into its own App, thanks to Abraham Sanchez and COCOMSYS. While not the same as Pokemon Go, I believe all of you will find this App to be more helpful as you look for synergies.
The Embassy of the United States is pleased to support initiatives such as this that bring together a community for the prosperity of Nicaragua. We look forward to seeing continued collaboration in this sphere. And ultimately, I look forward to purchasing the new products and services about to be invented here in Nicaragua by entrepreneurs.